Someone once said, “Love does not consist of just gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction. And for that, you need to open the lines of communication.” That’s difficult when you have communication differences present in your marriage.
This week, we’d like to address opening the lines of communication for you and your spouse a little bit wider. To do this we will address both husbands and wives. I (Steve) will address a marriage tip for husbands. And Cindy will address a marriage tip for the wives.
Marriage Tip for the Ladies:
“WARNING: Your husband can love you and still not have a clue about what you need!” This marriage tip actually came from author Sandra Aldrich. But I’d like to expand upon it a bit because I’ve found it to be so true.
What’s amazing to me is that Steve and I have been married for over 45 years and yet my wonderful husband is still clueless as to what I need in certain situations. And while it perplexes and frustrates me when this happens, I’ve come to the same conclusion as Sandra Aldrich. “A relationship can die while we wait for our spouse to learn to read our mind!”
She goes on to write:
“Women keep having this idea that if we’re truly loved our minds will be read and every little wish we have will be anticipated. That’s too heavy of a burden to put on another human being.”
The simple fact is that men and women look at things from different angles and that complicates matters. An example of this is when we would have guests coming over. I used to get perturbed when Steve wouldn’t help get things ready with the same effort I would put into it (after-all they’re his guests too).
We’d often start out at the same pace but eventually he’d stop. He’d tell me that “everything looked done” to him. He figured if things looked good enough to him it was fine to stop. If I wanted to do more than what he deemed necessary, it was my decision.
But they sure didn’t look done from MY PERSPECTIVE. It was still “obvious” to me that there was more to do. When I’d see Steve sit down as if done, I’d get angry that he would think of leaving the rest for me to do alone.
He’d be angry at me for wanting him to do more than he thought needed to be done from HIS PERSPECTIVE. Our differing perspectives brought differing expectations, which muddied up the lines of communication between us, causing us to be angry and resentful towards each other. It was a real problem.
Frustrating Communication Differences
After years of frustration, we’ve finally figured out how to handle this situation. We’ve chosen to tackle things as a team in agreement where I’m the “task manager” in this particular area of our lives because of my “homemaking skills.” I survey what needs to be done and write a running list, which helps my husband. I don’t just assume he knows what needs to be done anymore (eliminating mind-reading).
We then tackle the list together as a team. (I’m also learning to ease up on expecting more to be done than we both agree upon.)
Know Each Other’s Skill Sets
I’ve also learned not to ask Steve to do things that take “fussing over.” He’s not patient or talented at doing fussy work. We both become frustrated with the results. Steve is best at tackling the bigger, general type of cleaning, with me doing more of the detailed work to make our home look welcoming. It’s a system that works best for us. We also strive to be done at the same time. That also works best for us!
Over-all, I’m trying my best not to put Steve into any type of “mind-reading” situation. This is difficult because I want my husband to “know” what I need. After-all, isn’t he my “soul-mate” and isn’t that what we expect of a soul-mate? Yes, but the reality is that only God is my true soul mate (and even HE wants me to voice my needs to Him). A spouse is just a fallible human being who loves us. Expecting a husband to see things from our perspective isn’t the real world, and it causes problems.
If you find yourself falling into this trap, readjust your thinking to reality. Respectfully tell your husband what you need from him, being careful of your timing and attitude while doing so. This will honor him and the Lord as well.
Marriage Tip for Men:
First of all, you’ll notice a difference in the amount of words I’ll use to give you my perspective, compared to my wife’s. It’s important to note that we think and communicate differently. It’s common for men to use fewer words in a day from women. That doesn’t mean that men are right and women are wrong in the way they communicate or that men are wrong and women are right —it’s just different because we are different!
But because we use fewer words it’s very important to make sure the words we speak to our wives are edifying, express our genuine love and appreciation for them, and addresses the needs that they feel and express. Don’t use the “fewer words” argument to be an excuse for not connecting with our wives as we should.
As husbands (and wives) we need to each stretch ourselves to meet each other’s communication needs. The quieter spouse can stretch to talk a bit more and the more verbal spouse can expect less verbal communication (and personally use fewer words so the other spouse isn’t flooded by the amount of words you use).
To piggyback on Cindy’s tip:
I found the best way to avoid misunderstanding and conflict when a project needs to be done is to simply ask her, “What is it that I can do for you right now that would be most helpful?” And then I do it! It’s not quantum physics. Yet it took me many years of frustration and friction before I discovered this technique. It works wonders in relieving the pressure our wives feel in this situation. And if their pressures are relieved, so is ours! Try it!
Also, please know that we have additional marriage articles on our web site here at Marriage Missions, as well.
The point in giving you these marriage tips is to help you to open your lines of communication. Learn to communicate as God would have you in your marriage, to reflect the love of Christ.
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel. Instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will“ (2 Timothy 2:23-26).
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God“ (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Have a blessed week working on your communication with each other in your marriage,
Steve and Cindy Wright
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3 responses to “Communication Differences – MM #5”
(NIGERIA) I was thinking of communication this morning, I believe I have a problem communicating with my boyfriend. I know we have a lot to learn together but I don’t know how to start. We just recently got back from a 3 weeks break up and I want to do everything right. I felt good opening the website and the first thing I saw was on communication. Your articles have helped me a lot and I know they can help us.
(SOUTH AFRICA) Hi. Thank you for the article. I’ve been reading most of your articles and somehow I still don’t find a way out of my problem. Communication between my husband and me is a struggle. We’ve been married for 6 years now but with no improvement on my side (so I think). I feel that my husband does not listen to me or anything I say, which makes it difficult for him to understand me. In all our conversations or when I want to bring a concern to his attention I always have to repeat myself (which I don’t like) because he misinterprets me. If I don’t repeat myself, I have to emphasize that I’m not fighting. I’m really tired of this. I want to speak freely with him understanding me.
I’ve also noticed that our priorities are totally different. When I spoke to him about that, it seems as if I’m against him, or I don’t support him. I support my husband fully, I appreciate every single thing he is doing for the family but when are my views going to matter to him? It feels like he just shuts down when I speak to him. I have tried every communication techniques that I have read in communication books, but still no luck at all.
He always says I speak to him with disrespect. I have been speaking to him with all the respect I know. I have asked him how would he want me to speak to him and he will says next time speak to him using the same approach that he wants. Again we end up fighting because he doesn’t like it. I’m really confused.
Last month we talked about having a second child. So last week, I said to him I don’t think financially we are prepared for the second child and he said I’m saying that he is not man enough to take care of his family. I was saying that because we are busy extending the house and it has drained us a lot financially. Even there I have to defend myself by saying I’m not fighting and trying to explain myself and ended up by asking for an apology, just to drop the subject and to stop the fight. I’m really tied of fighting.
I’m really confused. I really don’t know how to communicate with my husband. I’m really feeling lonely with no one to talk to and I’m feeling tired. I really don’t want to fight with him. I want him to understand me and listen to me. I want him to support me in my goals and dreams. To consider my ideas too.
(USA) It has always irritated me when my (girl) friends expect or think their boyfriends/husbands “should(*) just know” what they want and get all upset when they don’t get it! I live by these two (at least) sayings…
(1) “If you don’t ask for what you want, you get exactly what you asked for…Nothing!” and,
(2) “If you get something you don’t like, say so, or you just might get it again!”
Unfortunately, due to communication differences this too is not always easy but…Life was never promised to be easy! Just… Worth It!
* Should: Personally, I don’t like using the word “should” either. Why “should” anybody, anything, other than what their maker wants of them? It’s a judgemental word and honestly only myself & my Maker have the right to and/or can truly judge me!
My opinions! Glad I found this site! Thank you for your efforts! In love, always! N~